Patchwork is a 2 player game that bills itself as being about putting together the best and most beautiful quilt using patches and a board. I was a little skeptical, thinking “How do you determine who has the ‘best’ quilt?” But in reality the game has nothing to with quilting; it’s more like a 2 player version of Tetris, where both players have to try to fit pieces on the board as best they can to cover the most space, while managing your one resource effectively.
One of the nice things about Patchwork is the setup is pretty minimal: each player gets a board, and there is a board in the middle that tracks turns. The patches are spread totally at random in a circle around the boards, and there is a marker that goes in front of a certain patch that determines which patches can be bought initially.
Players can do one of two things each turn: buy a patch to add to their board or advance their token to obtain buttons. Buttons are the currency of the game, used to buy patches to build your quilt with. Some patches you buy have button symbols on them, and every so often in the game you will get to take a number of buttons equal to the number of symbols you have on your quilt. The patches with more buttons on them will generate more “button income” but of course they are more expensive to buy. Another consideration is that whenever you purchase a patch you have to advance your token a certain number of spaces on the board; the game ends for a player when he reaches the end of the board. So sometimes a cheap patch isn’t such a great deal because it advances you too far.
Different patches come in different shapes and sizes, and vary in price accordingly. Do you want to take that really cheap patch that’s weirdly shaped? It will cover a lot of space but be hard to work around. And if it doesn’t have any buttons that’s going to hurt you later…but it covers so much space…! These are the kinds of things you’ll have to figure out each time you play.
After a few games you’ll get to know the pieces and which ones are better in which situations. My fiancee and I have given nicknames to some of the pieces: Utah, H, goalpost, Big Blue, etc. 🙂
Balancing all the factors (covering your board, increasing button income, not advancing too far, etc.) makes for a fun and strategic challenge. There are also a couple more wrinkles to keep you thinking: a bonus for the first person to cover a 7 x 7 area of their board (the entire board is 9 x 9), and some single square patches that start on the game board. These cannot be bought; the first person to land on that space gets them. They are the only way to fill in a single spot, although sometimes when you get them you aren’t really sure where to put them (you have to place them immediately, so no saving them for later).
Scoring is pretty simple, each player counts up their buttons at the end of the game and subtracts 2 points for each unfilled square on their board. Negative scores are certainly possible, and any score above 10 is pretty good. Sometimes you’ll think you’re doing really well because you’ve covered a lot of board but you don’t score very well because you don’t have enough buttons at the end, or sometimes it’s the other way around.
All in all this is a very fun game that I’m always willing to play. And since the patches are randomly distributed, each playthrough will be different. It’s great to have another two player game available; it seems like that’s a rapidly growing segment of gaming and it’s great. I can recommend this one to just about anyone. Thanks for reading and I would love to hear your comments!